It’s officially that wonderful time of year when holiday cheer brings us closer together with those who are near and dear to our hearts. Though for some, this may be a season of divisiveness, duress, anxiety, and fear, for the religious connotations are strong, and the consumerism is stronger, even highly revered. So many expectations come along with the holidays, and for many of us that inescapable lust for possessions and packages and boxes and things betrays our core values, even the essence of our being. And it’s so easy to get caught up in, and to be completely swept away by the gadgets, gizmos, and widgets on display.
However, there is yet another way. We don’t have to give in to the temptation to shop, no matter how strong the allure of it all, we can stop. Black Friday is yet just another day of the year. It just so happens to be right near our national day of Thanksgiving, so we’re inclined to gather and stuff ourselves full of rather massive amounts of rich food. We chat and discuss all that is good, while many others are hypnotized by flashing screens with ads proclaiming news of big sales, and men in tight clothes tackling each other in between. This cultic, quixotic, narcissistic little show was designed so that capitalist’s bottom lines could be grown far beyond what is necessary, equitable, and serene.
So, in order to avoid being ground in gears of the capitalism machine, let us Occupy Christmas, make Black Friday into Buy Nothing Day, and instead, shop small or not at all. The big box stores are not the only places to find gifts, there are plenty of local businesses waiting to fulfill the wishes of those who would rather put their dollars back into their local economies. And there is nothing more special than a handmade gift from a loved one, crafted with care and economic thrift. We can reclaim our holy days and make them sacred once again. But first we must stop feeding the greed and excess of the corporate world that does little more than continuously take from us. Rarely do they give back in proportion to what they receive when they come in and set up shop in our communities.
The time has come for a cultural shift, and a change in the way with interact within our economic systems and structures. For too long now we’ve been deceived and led astray by name brands, advertising schemes, and unrelenting cultural conditioning. We must learn to live within our means or it could be the end of all that we truly need. Our natural resources have been used and abused to near capacity. Here in America we consume and waste with near impunity. But we are beginning to reap the bitter fruits of unrelenting consumerism and the never ending pursuit of wealth that has supplanted the American Dream.
Once upon time we were mostly satisfied to believe that a decent living, a modest home, and a family was all that we needed to be fulfilled and to live a good life. But now it seems that we all have to have the coolest, newest, and greatest of things. And many are willing to go far into debt in order to have whatever tantalizing items are dancing in front us presently. Simple moments that once took little effort to enjoy now must be mediated by technology and toys that teach and direct and employ as many of our senses as possible. And as our children suffer from attention deficit disorders, we’re much less social now that social media has taken over the space that was once filled with face to face conversations and shared thoughts. Now only our opinions are garnered with any weight.
Families are split and divided over trivial things such as politics, science, and even reality television. We pay so much more attention to what is happening on the screens we’re constantly holding in front of our faces, that we’re blinded to the truth of what the real world is saying to us. The plants and animals are crying out for liberation, yet our desire for fame and wealth drowns out the call of natural world. We must stop trying to live vicariously through dysfunctional celebrities, start looking at the real world around us, and remember our priorities. If we don’t support one another, our communities, local artisans, entrepreneurs and small businesses, then we will begin to lose our social identity.
Once we give away everything that was once significant and unique about the special places we inhabit, there will be little left to keep us from being subject to a growing corporate oligarchy. This is why it is so important to think about where we’re spending our hard earned dollars, and why. If we’re simply following the crowds, trying to get the best deals possible, and handing over our time and money to corporations who have little interest in us or our communities, then we are letting our desires be manipulated by the insidious entrapments of consumerism, and in the end we will lose so much more.